Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Michaelmas Cupcakes

One of our family's favorite ways to celebrate Michaelmas is with cupcakes. Bake Devil's Food cupcakes, decorate with chocolate frosting, and serve with cocktail "swords" (Playmobil swords work great too!) to help St. Michael defeat the "devil”!

and more recipes for Michaelmas in the archives! 

Grant us with Michael still, O Lord, 
Against the Prince of pride to fight; 
So may a crown be our reward, 
Before the Lamb’s pure throne of light. 
- Excerpt from "Hymn in honor of St. Michael the Archangel"

Happy Michaelmas!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canonization of Junípero Serra - Tortilla Making

With the canonization today of St. Junípero Serra, we had a little community celebration at our house. Lots of kids learning about California mission life and how they lived and what they ate.  The culmination of the event was making our own corn tortillas which were eaten with toppings of frijoles, peppers, and cheese. We are doing another similar event tomorrow.

We started out by learning about how to grind corn on a makeshift metate. (Just for fun - we didn't use this flour in the actual preparation or cooking.)

Then everyone rolled out their own tortillas, placed between sheets of wax paper.

They were then fried on the griddle. The kids patiently waited and kept an eye on their special creations.

And finally everyone enjoyed their finished tortillas, topped with frijoles, peppers, and queso fresco. 

If you are learning about St. Junípero Serra and celebrating his canonization this week, give fresh tortilla making a try!

Making Corn Tortillas From Scratch

2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water

Mix the masa harina and the salt together in a mixing bowl. Pour in the water and stir to combine.  Using your hands, knead the dough for a minute or two in the bowl. The dough is ready when it's smooth, but no longer sticky, and easy forms a ball.

Rest the dough for 15-30 minutes to fully absorb the water and texture of the tortillas. When ready, pinch off a few tablespoons of dough and roll it between your hands to form a ball.  Adjust the amount of dough to make larger or smaller tortillas.

Without a tortilla press: Place the ball of dough on a piece of wax or parchment paper. Place another piece on top of dough ball. Use a rolling pin to flatten the tortillas. Start in the middle and roll out to the edges until thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Peel away the top paper, flip the tortilla over onto your palm, and peel off the back paper.

Warm a large, flat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook for 2 minutes, until the edges are starting to curl up and the bottoms look dry and pebbly. Flip and cook another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.  Serve with selected toppings. Makes about 20 6-inch tortillas.

St. Junípero Serra, Pray for us!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Homemade PayDay Bars for the Feast of St. Matthew

Last All Hallows' Eve I filled one of our All Saints Guessing Jars with PayDay bars for St. Matthew, patron of accountants! In honor of his feast today I decide to try a recipe for some Homemade PayDay bars. They were quick and easy and, according to my children, tasted better than the actual candy bars.          

Homemade PayDay Bars
adapted from Food.com

  • 1 (16 oz) jar dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10 oz) bag peanut butter chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows


Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan. Pour half of the peanuts into the pan..

Over medium-low heat, melt butter and chips. Remove from heat and mix in sweetened condensed milk. Stir in marshmallows, do not melt marshmallows.

Spoon mixture over peanuts in pan, pat down.

Top with remaining peanuts and press down to help adhere the top layer of peanuts. 

Chill until set. 

Cut into desired serving size.

These bars only took about 20 minutes to assemble and another 20 minutes to chill. If you are looking for something even easier you can always just pick up some PayDay candy bars.  I hope you all have a blessed feast day!

Matthew from The Twelve Apostles by Marianna Mayer

St. Matthew, ora pro nobis! 

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

St. Matthew Winged Cupcakes

The following recipe was submitted by Julie Machado, from Marta, Julie e Maria, for the feast of St. Matthew. Thank you, Julie!

A symbol for St. Matthew is a winged man or angel. Some link it to the geneology at the beginning of his Gospel while others to the angel that appeared to Joseph. I had the idea to make winged cupcakes, with the figure of a man, but you could also draw a lion for St. Mark, an ox for St. Luke or an eagle for St. John and put on the wings. (View the various symbols here.)

First, melt some chocolate, put it in a frosting dispenser or plastic bag with the tip cut off and draw angel wings on wax paper. Let them set in the refrigerator.

Make cupcakes and frost them according to whatever recipe you like best. I used a sugar and spice recipe from a cupcake book. Draw a man stick figure on the cupcakes using the melted chocolate. Stick the wings on.

It is hot here so my wings started melting pretty fast out of the refrigerator.

"Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her."  Matthew 1:20

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Mini Caprese Inspired Appetizers for Italian Saint Days

Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. A clever Italian Flag-Shaped Caprese Salad was featured in past post. Since the salad is a specialty of the Island of Capri and the province of Calabria in southern Italy (which includes Naples) it is especially fitting for feast days of the saints associated with that region.  This week we celebrate San Gennaro (St. Januarius), the patron of Naples (September 19).  Two recent August saints, St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Philomena, are associated with the region as well. And then there is St. Pio of Pietrelcina next week who is not from the region, but is Italian, and this can definitely be for any Italian saint as well.

I came across this variation of the salad as an appetizer and with sun-dried tomatoes which I love, so decided to give it a try. They were quite delicious and make a fun feast day savory treat. Ideally, this would be made with the true mozzarella di bufala, a specialty of the Naples region.

Mini Caprese Inspired Appetizers


4 oz. fresh mozzarella ball, diced small
3 tablespoons oil-packed, sundried tomatoes, patted dry and diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly chopped
1½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
30 Phyllo Shells
Flake sea salt, to garnish

In mixing bowl, combine mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes,vinegar and oil. Mix thoroughly. Fill mini shells with one heaping teaspoon of mixture. Garnish with chopped basil and flake sea salt. Serve.

You can buy the phyllo shells ready made (Ex: Athens Mini Fillo Shells) or make your own from phyllo dough. I adapted mine from this tutorial - cut them round instead of square. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mantle of Stars for Our Lady

In the grocery store this week I saw a Limited Edition Pop Tart flavor which was blue frosted with white star sprinkles. It reminded me of the mantle of stars present in several images of Our Lady.

Some of the images where we see the Blessed Mother beautifully cloaked in a mantle of stars are shown here.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Altagracia

Our Lady of Pontmain (OL of Hope)

So if you are looking for a quick and easy treat for a Marian feast day this could be an option. But act fast as this is a limited edition Pop Tart flavor. I don't know how long it is available as I assume they were from the 4th of July this summer and have only seen it in one store here (Albertson's). 

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cake

This beautiful cake was created and submitted by Angelica Hernandez, inspired by the Holy Name of Mary coloring page found at Waltzing Matilda, in honor of today's feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Thank you, Angelica! 

"The devils fear the Queen of heaven to such a degree, that only on hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire." 
~ Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Happy Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary! 

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Blueberry Pie for the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The following recipe was submitted by Julie Machado, from Marta, Julie e Maria, for the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Thank you, Julie! 

I found the recipe for this blueberry pie on the Like Mother Like Daughter blog. The recipe is originally from Taste of Home and is super easy to make. I used filo dough for the crust and cut out Mary's name to put on top. Even though the recipe doesn't call for baking, I baked it about ten minutes (and had prebaked it before) until the letters were slightly golden. This recipe for blueberry pie really is delicious!

Blueberry Pie for the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked
  • extra filo dough for "MARY" 


In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until smooth. Add 3 cups blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice and remaining berries; stir until butter is melted. Cool. Pour into pastry shell.

Add the name of Mary to the top of the pie and bake for about ten minutes, or until the letters are slightly golden. Let cool. Refrigerate until serving.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Holy Name of Mary - Our Lady Star of the Sea

According the Catholic Encyclopedia, “We venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of creatures, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Mercy. The object of the feast is the Holy Virgin bearing the name of Mirjam (Mary); the feast commemorates all the privileges given to Mary by God and all the graces we have received through her intercession and mediation.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary originated in Spain and was approved in 1513.  In 1683, Pope Innocent XI extended the celebration of the feast day to the universal Church to be celebrated September 12. While the feast day was removed from the universal calendar following 1970 Missal revisions, Pope John Paul reinstituted the feast day, as an “optional memorial” in 2003. 

Our lady is known by many names. Some are place names associated with her or with apparitions. Others are based on her intercession for particular needs. Many evoke images of her leading us to her Son so are symbolic. On this official day which we recognize the holy name of Mary, it is a good time to think of the many names by which she is known and which hold special significance for devotion. Learn a new name. Find out why she is referred to by that name.

One name that I particularly love is Our Lady Star of the Sea, or Stella Maris. Listed here are some of the quotes related to the name and on the origin of this title in reference to the Blessed Mother.

The Hebrew name Miryam, meaning drop of the sea, was translated by St. Jerome into Stilla Maris, but at some later stage a copyist transcribed this into Stella Maris - star of the sea, and this transcription error became widespread.

Paschasius Radbertus in the ninth century wrote of Mary, Star of the Sea, as a guide to be followed on the way to Christ "lest we capsize amid the storm-tossed waves of the sea." At this time too the plainsong hymn "Ave Maris Stella" ("Hail, Star of the Sea"), became increasingly popular.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: "If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary."

Pope Pius XII in his encyclical, Doctor Mellifluus, also quoted Bernard of Clairvaux in saying; Mary ... is interpreted to mean 'Star of the Sea.' This admirably befits the Virgin Mother.. (for) as the ray does not diminish the brightness of the star, so neither did the Child born of her tarnish the beauty of Mary's virginity.

I saw this candy mold online last year thought it would be perfect for something Stella Maris themed for this feast day. It could be used for a variety of sea star treats - like chocolate, candy melts, fudge.  I adapted a favorite peanut butter ball recipe and instead of rolling it into balls, pressed it into the mold.

Sea Star Bites for Our Lady Star of the Sea 


  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  •  cup raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


If your molds are small it is a good idea to grind the oats into smaller pieces. In a mixing bowl, mix oats, peanut butter, wheat germ, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Make sure it is mixed well.  Press into molds.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour or freezer for 10-15 minutes so that they bind together and can be extracted from the molds more easily.  Serve on plate with sprinkle of crushed graham cracker sand (optional).

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Pray for Us!

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother!

Birthdays are always joyous occasions in families. On September 8th, the Church, the Family of God celebrates the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We can bake or purchase a white cake to symbolize Our Lady’s purity and top it with a circle of 10 candles to represent one decade of the rosary.

Pray a “Hail Mary” as each you light each candle and then sing Happy Birthday.

Rejoice, O earth, because from the womb of Anna, as from a fertile vine, has sprung a sweet ripe cluster. To the harvesting of this vineyard all are invited, none are excluded - it is the joy of all.  ~ St. John Damascene

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